The Atlanta Hawks suffered a narrow defeat to the Brooklyn Nets, with a final score of 114-113, in their first home contest in 15 days. Despite putting together one of their better defensive performances of the season, a late-game mid-range shot by Mikal Bridges ultimately secured the victory for the Nets.
The Hawks initiated the game with a strong pace, showcasing solid defensive rotations. De’Andre Hunter contributed the first two baskets, while the Nets secured their initial three baskets from beyond the arc. Even though the three-pointers were successful early on, the Hawks’ defense appeared much improved compared to previous games.
Although recording only one steal in the first quarter, the Hawks managed to establish an early seven-point lead with a layup from Saddiq Bey. However, this would turn out to be the largest lead they held throughout the entire game.
The Hawks later increased the lead back to seven, courtesy of a three-pointer from Dejounte Murray at the halfway point in the quarter. Nevertheless, the Nets responded promptly, and the remainder of the quarter saw both teams trading baskets in a back-and-forth fashion.
Cam Johnson took center stage early on for the Nets, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. This effort contributed to his total of 11 points, while Mikal Bridges added 9. The Hawks displayed a more balanced scoring distribution after the first quarter, with Trae Young scoring 9, Saddiq Bey adding 8, and Hunter, Murray, and Bogdanovic contributing 5, 5, and 6 points respectively. Dejounte Murray showcased versatility by recording four rebounds and four assists in addition to his five points. As the first quarter concluded, the Hawks held a slim 33-31 lead.
In the second quarter, the Hawks once again initiated play with Okongwu and Capela sharing the court. Trae Young’s defensive prowess remained noteworthy, demonstrating solid one-on-one skills throughout the game. His active involvement on both ends of the court was evident, highlighted by a well-executed help defense play where he managed to draw a charge.
Both teams played evenly throughout the second quarter, but the Hawks faced challenges from beyond the arc, going scoreless and missing all six attempts. Dorian Finney-Smith made the only two three-pointers for either team in what evolved into a low-scoring quarter. The period witnessed numerous lead changes, contributing to the historical closeness of the game.
Per Nets PR and Elias, there were 43 lead changes in Hawks-Nets, and that is the most lead changes in a game since it began being tracked in the 1996-97 season.— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) December 7, 2023
The Hawks encountered difficulties establishing offensive rhythm with the two-big lineup on the court, highlighting the inherent risk in such a strategy. Okongwu, despite having two open looks from three, couldn’t convert either opportunity. At the midway point of the quarter, the game was tied at 41. However, with nearly five minutes remaining, Okongwu received a loose ball foul, marking his third personal foul of the game. Foul trouble has been a recurring theme for Okongwu this season.
The remaining part of the quarter witnessed a constant exchange of leads, with neither team holding a significant advantage. In the final five minutes of the second quarter alone, there were eight lead changes. De’Andre Hunter managed to capitalize on seamless offensive orchestration from Trae Young, hitting a wide-open floater. This shot gave the Hawks a three-point lead as they entered the third quarter, despite only scoring 23 points in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, the Hawks were outscored 28-26. Mikal Bridges led the charge with an impressive 13 points in the quarter, while Trae Young contributed 11 for the Hawks. After failing to make any three-pointers in the second quarter, the Hawks found their range, sinking four shots from beyond the arc on ten attempts.
Dejounte Murray, currently tied for fourth place in the NBA in total steals, added to his tally with another steal. This defensive play helped extend the Hawks’ lead to seven points for the first time since the first quarter.
Once again, the third quarter featured several lead changes, particularly towards the end. The Nets narrowed the seven-point lead, and as the quarter concluded, the game was neck and neck. A crucial floater from Trae Young provided the Hawks with a slim one-point lead as they entered the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks were outscored 33-31 in what turned out to be nothing short of a thriller. The Nets seized an early four-point lead, marking their largest lead of the game. However, Saddiq Bey quickly responded with a crucial play just when the Hawks needed it most.
Once again the game became back-and-forth with both teams constantly taking the lead over the other. Here is NBA’s lead tracker to get an idea of how the fourth quarter went.
It was truly anyone’s game at the finish. With a minute and a half remaining, the Hawks saw a three point deficit as the Nets led 109-106. Trae Young then came down court and sunk a floater to cut the lead to one.
Trae Young then forced a stop defensively, giving the Hawks a chance to take the lead.
Saddiq Bey then knocked down two free throws to give the Hawks a one point lead. However, the Hawks let up far too easy of a layup given the high-leverage situation. Murray was seemingly expecting to play high while Hunter played low, and Hunter was caught in the middle.
The Hawks came down and missed a shot, while Spencer Dinwiddie hit one of two free throws after a purposeful foul by the Hawks. With a chance to tie or take the lead, Trae Young did what he does best.
But, as the game would go, Mikal Bridges came right back down with a mid-range to put the Nets back on top by one point. The Hawks had one final possession to win the game, and it certainly ended with controversy.
There was no foul called on this final play. Trae Young and Quin Snyder were both furious with the no call. In their post-game interviews, Snyder and Young both spoke to the Hawks’ defensive efforts tonight.
There is certainly positives to take away from this defensive performance by the Hawks. THe defensive rotations were as solid as we have seen all year, and now the Hawks just need to put it all together.